Google has recently announced that it will be unveiling an update in May that will amplify its mobile-ranking signal in a bid to aid users to find more relevant, and mobile-friendly sites. However, as Darryl Britton from WiserWeb explains, Google wasn’t forthcoming about the exact impact it will have in the world of SEO.
Mobile-friendly sites have been gaining traction in the online world ever since Google made changes to its algorithm in 2014 which in effect promoted sites that were labelled as ‘mobile-friendly,’ which effectively means that the website can be navigated on a mobile device with very little difficulty. So this means that the webpage should not contain flash (as many mobile devices do not support it) and text should be presented in an easy-to-read way that doesn’t require pinching or zooming.
The mobile-friendly label was soon instilled as a ranking factor, which means that any websites deemed as not mobile-friendly would rank lower than their mobile-friendly counterparts. In fact, the algorithm update has such an impact on the industry, that it gained the name ‘Mobilegeddon.’
So what does the latest update from Google hope to achieve? Well, the information surrounding the update is somewhat scarce, but it does enforce one message, having a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever.
Why Is There So Much Focus on Mobile Sites?
Just as technology has evolved, so has the way we use it. When the Internet was first unleashed, the downloading of a webpage often took a number of wires as well as a great deal of patience. Internet users in the current day can not only download information wirelessly at an astonishing rate, but they can also do it from a number of different devices.
The introduction of touchscreen smartphones and tablets means that the way people peruse the web has changed somewhat dramatically. Operating systems such as Android and iOS were offering a mobile platform that could equally match the operating system found on any home computer.
As such, many webmasters saw the potential of these operating systems, as started to ensure that their website was built for visitors deriving from these platforms. This often meant that the structure of the website would adapt to a user’s device and operating system, meaning that the navigation was only done via the touch screen.
As smartphones become commonplace in the modern world, a series of apps and mobile-friendly sites were unveiled which made navigating the web a much easier endeavour while mobile.
The focus of mobile browsing has been adopted into modern culture, with a series of people uploading pics to social media while mobile, as well as checking into their favourite businesses.
Businesses are also able to promote themselves to potential customers in the area, by offering special discounts and offers to anyone within the locality.
Of course, there is also the fact that Google will want to present websites that are relevant and mobile-friendly, to help better serve advertisers who use the Google platform to help expand their business.
What Does the Update in May Actually Entail?
Google is holding back on this one, other than stating that mobile-friendly websites are a must. But Google has also been fixated on offering its visitors webpages that load quickly, and has introduced AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) in the past, which helps sites load much faster, akin to Facebook’s Instant Articles feature.
As such, it can be expected that AMP will be introduced as another factor in Google’s mobile ranking algorithm, but this can only be speculated until the update is actually released.
How Can I Check My Website is Mobile-Friendly?
Evidently, some website owners may be concerned that their website may not meet the criteria set out by Google and therefore fall in ranking. However, Google does offer tools that can help webmasters ensure that their website is mobile-friendly. Using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test feature can help you determine as to whether you need to make any changes.
There are also a series of guides presented by Google itself that will aid you in customising your website software by offering a series of checklists, as well as some questions and answers.
While many could deem such updates as frustrating, it actually instils confidence in users who use the search engine on a daily basis, as they know they will only be presented with rich content and responsive websites, not a series of keyword-stuffed websites that have haunted the Google results in the past, and are part of the reason why such powerful algorithm updates were put in place in the first instance.